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Desolate Son

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Album Review

Seattle-based trio Palodine came into being with an ear for the kind of dark moodiness that other acts near and far had long appreciated would be a potent blend — goth moodiness, high-and-lonesome twang, and a cinematic sensibility can all be powerful individually, but in concert, as groups from the Walkabouts and Mojave 3 to Faith & Disease and the Tindersticks had shown, the results can be astonishing. So if the combination Palodine bring to bear on their debut album, Desolate Son, isn't new as such, what matters is the strength of the songs and performances, and the group succeeds in spades. Vocalist Katrina Whitney has a strong, careful delivery while guitarist Michael Aryn isn't afraid to crank up the volume while avoiding stun-level riffs — the brief but powerful solo on "Fire in the Field" helps ratchet up the tension right from the start of the album. Jason Brooks adds steady if not always uniquely remarkable drumming along with production help, and in combination the musicians aim for the darkly dramatic and nail it more times than not, as in particular revealed by the sea shanty-like "Vengeance" and the epic rise of "Devils Song," where Aryn again gets to show off just enough with some excellent work. Individual moments throughout shine — the low-volume organ melody that starts "Sugar Water Orphan" is one that in itself turns out to be a good fake given how the song picks up into a rollicking pace by the end, while the distanced guitar suddenly set against a tense rhythm on "How to Use" makes for another dramatic start. Meanwhile, the steady backwoods stomp that opens "Frozen" alone shows that if they wanted to, Palodine could easily take a more strictly revivalist approach — it's to their credit that they look toward broader horizons (as the breakbeat and tight funk groove later in the song readily demonstrate).

Desolate Son, Palodine
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